June 16, 2024

Fashion Design

Fashion Designs that Enlighten the Soul.

Tour fashion designer Nandita Mahtani’s gorgeous poolside home in Alibag

4 min read

This past January, Nandita Mahtani celebrated 20 years of her namesake fashion label with a celebratory fashion show in which her friend Karan Johar walked the ramp. The audience was packed with Bollywood faces, from Manish Malhotra to Neelam Kothari Soni to Raveena Tandon to Bhavna Pandey as well as South Mumbai’s swish set, including, of course, social media darling Orry (Orhan Awatramani). Nandi—as she is affectionately known—is well-known for her resort fashion wear, but what most people don’t know is that she has also worked on a number of interior projects over the years. A fixture on the Delhi-Mumbai-London social scene, Mahtani is well known for her understated style, whether it’s in fashion or her demeanour. She plays a small part in her Mumbai-based family’s thriving seafood-export business; her great love has always been design.

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Facing the sea and enveloped in greenery, Nandita Mahtani’s family home in Alibag is among her first interior design projects. Completed in 2012 along with architect Kersi Kapadia, the home is designed to serve as a permanent address, and not just a beachside retreat.

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The outdoor pool is flanked by white bougainvillea shrubs.

Her first such design project was the family home in Alibag, which she finished in 2012. “It was really my first project and I had no idea what I was getting into,” she says with a laugh. The 8,000 square-foot home comprises three floors, with five bedrooms, and is set on an acre of land with sea views. Mahtani says that her initial design for the space was a rustic, country house with a courtyard, but she soon jettisoned the idea. “After a few months, I decided that I wanted a space that was not just a beach house but one where I could live permanently too,” she explains. Working alongside architect Kersi Kapadia, she had the team rip out the plinths and start over. “I know, a bit ridiculous—but I wanted to build my dream home, and have a modern, classical space that could be used year-round.” In other words, beautiful but also practical.

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Large French doors open to the living room and the multipurpose entertainment rooms. Visitors are greeted by a decorative tree here, which Mahtani sourced from Paris.

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The dining room brings together bespoke furniture as well as centerpieces collected during Mahtani’s travels.

Key features of the home are the expansive French doors that open out from every side and the dramatic black-and-white floor in the living room. The two colours form her favourite palette— “My eyes always go first towards black and white”—and she finds the combination striking. “Even though it’s a chequered floor, there’s a lot you can do with it in terms of design,” she explains. In fact, she says the living area is her favourite area of the house. Even though it was designed well over a decade ago, Mahtani says she still finds new corners to enjoy within it. She recently added new wallpaper and photography to the house, sourcing items from her travels around the world. Another beloved corner is the multipurpose entertaining room, replete with a high table and television. Flooded with light, it can open out into the garden or be enclosed during the monsoons.

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Expansive windows at each landing let plenty of light into the stairway. The chandeliers are from a concept store in Le Marais, Paris.

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The living room on the first floor houses Chesterfield sofas from the UK, side tables from Ralph Lauren, and objets d’art collected by Mahtani during her travels in Europe.

The fashion designer’s foray into homes is but natural. “Fashion complements interiors and vice versa.” Mahtani points out that, when designing her fashion line, she turns to interiors for inspiration, whether it’s patterns, wallpaper, drapes, art or furniture. “I always loved spaces; I used to help my friends with their homes and my parents always just left it to me to figure out their homes too,” she says. In addition to interiors, she developed a jewellery line with Farah Khan, which debuted in London and Dubai and will soon be shown in India. One collection is an art deco–inspired cocktail line and the other she describes as “more fun with a pop of colour, not so serious”. Mahtani says she loves jewellery, which is a family passion; even the men in her family are connoisseurs. Her favourite pieces include a heart-shaped diamond pendant designed by her mother as a gift for Mahtani; recent buys include the Bulgari Serpenti and Cartier’s Juste un Clou necklaces.

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A striking wicker bed takes centre stage in an upstairs bedroom.

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A custom-made four-poster bed graces one of the upstairs bedrooms. Mahtani recently added wallpaper to some of the spaces.

For this avid traveller, Miami is an abiding source of inspiration. “From the design district to the art deco buildings to the way they create spaces there, the city resonates with me,” Mahtani says. “Miami has so much creativity—from the way they use fabrics to the use of materials to the interplay of light with space, it gets my brain working in overdrive.” In fact, responding to Miami seems intuitive, given that her hometown of Mumbai shares similarities, not just in terms of its art deco heritage but also the tropical vibe. Alibag is but a natural extension of that vibe. As for working on more interior projects going forward, Nandita Mahtani says, “Absolutely—anything creative excites me, it doesn’t have to be limited to one sphere.”

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